As Walt Disney World got ready to furlough 43,000 of its beloved Cast Members, 800 equity actors and actresses will also be joining those ranks. After reaching an agreement with the Actors’ Equity Association, Disney announced that the actors will be furloughed beginning April 19, 2020.
Orlando Sentinel reports that Russell Lehrer, chief negotiator for the Actors’ Equity Association, stated in a press release: “We are proud to be able to reach agreement on our primary goals, to ensure both continued access to health care throughout the furlough, and a guaranteed return to employment under the contract for everyone on the Equity agreement.”
Cast Members who qualify as equity actors can include those “friends” with the characters, and Cast Members who perform in shows such as castle shows, parades, and other stage shows throughout the theme parks. If you have been to Magic Kingdom to watch Festival of Fantasy or Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, or if you have seen Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, then you’ve most likely remembered the work of at least one Equity Actor.
The current pandemic situation led Disney to make a secondary agreement with the Actors’ Equity Association. According to the union’s website, an agreement “covers theatrical performers at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The Disney Company health insurance plan is provided. The Disney Agreement is administered from the Orlando office.
The current agreement began on September 10, 2017 and expires on September 10, 2022.”
The agreement with the Actors’ Equity Association is the latest agreement Disney World has struck with a Cast Members Union. The past several days have seen Disney make agreements with the Call Center and Telecom union, the Food & Beverage Union, the Independent Employee Service Association, and the American Musician union.
Walt Disney World resort has already announced that 43,000 Cast Members will be put on furlough during the enduring park closure. Please also be aware that a furlough does not equate to a layoff. The employees keep their jobs and continue to collect benefits. When the parks reopened, these employees will go back to work. In short, they are safer than most.
This is a developing story and we will update this article as more information becomes available.